petrol pump

UK faces ‘huge challenge’ readying itself for 2030 petrol car ban

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The Government faces a “huge challenge” phasing out new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have said.

Originally, measures were put in place to ban sales by 2040 as part of efforts to lower the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. This deadline was moved twice last year: firstly, to 2035 in February, then to 2030 in November, although this last date did not include the ban on hybrid vehicles.

The PAC warned that just 11 per cent of new car registrations in 2020 were for ultra-low emission cars and that it will be a “huge challenge” getting this to 100 per cent within the next 14 years.

It said that consumers would need to be further convinced about the affordability and practicality of zero-emission cars, with up-front prices still too high for many in comparison to petrol or diesel equivalents. The Committee suggested that the Transport and Business departments should give more tax incentives to bring this cost down faster.

The number of charging points is increasing rapidly, but many more will be required within a very short period of time to support the envisaged growth in electric cars in the UK. The PAC said it was not convinced that the government is on track to achieve this.

In February this year, a think tank warned that the UK needed to ramp up the installation of charge points by five times the current rate to make the 2030 date achievable.

The government was also urged to stay on top of other consequences arising from the transition, including the impact on the skills and capabilities required to support the changeover in the UK vehicle fleet; the environmental and social implications of the switch-over both in the UK and across global supply chains; the impact on future power needs, and the impact on the government tax-take due to the loss of fuel duties.

Meg Hillier MP, chair of the committee, said: “The government has a mountain to climb to get to all new cars in the UK emitting zero carbon in the next 14 years; to convince consumers and make the cars appealing; to make the car industry environmentally and socially compliant; to build the necessary infrastructure to support this radical shift, and - possibly biggest of all - to wean itself off carbon revenues.

“Yet once again what we’ve got is a government throwing up a few signs around base camp and no let-up in demand for oversized, petrol- guzzling vehicles.

“This isn’t about more targets with no plan behind them inevitably getting missed. It’s about averting the real-world challenges that are bearing down on all of us. The government needs to get the country behind it and lead the way in the global race against climate change.”

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said manufacturers share the government’s ambition for an “electric revolution”, but there must be a “comprehensive and holistic plan to get us there in time”.

Hawes added: “That plan must convince consumers to make the switch, it must provide the incentives that make electric cars affordable for all, and it must ensure recharging is as easy as refuelling.”

A government spokesperson said: “We’ve got a highly ambitious and world-leading approach to increasing the uptake of zero-emission cars and the progress we’re making in this area will help us to meet our targets.

“Already, we’re investing £2.8bn in helping industry and drivers make the switch and will continue our work to install thousands of chargepoints and boost the development of new technologies to meet our goals.”


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